Monday, January 25, 2016

The True Purpose of Parenthood

As parents we naturally feed, clothe, and house our kids. These are basic functions we who are blessed with children are expected to do to the best of our abilities. Yet the one true purpose of parenthood in my humble opinion is to protect our offspring from harm no matter what consequences we ourselves are called upon to endure. Furthermore, should we fail to protect them from the harsh realities of life, as parents we must seek justice for the wrongs that have been inflicted upon them.

This truism was presented to me in bold fashion as I watched Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant last Friday. Whether it be a mama grizzly bear or a widowed father, when our babies are in apparent danger, our instincts to fight rise up. No matter how violent it may seem to outsiders, whatever is necessary to protect them should and must be done.

I would never attempt to give you a play-by-play of this amazing story because my efforts would be futile. But I will cite a few excerpts to bolster my 'true purpose of parenthood' theory. Hugh Glass, a scout for a group of trappers led by Army Captain Henry, is alone in the woods tracking Indian renegades when two bear cubs come into view. Although on his radar, his intentions towards these creatures seem amicable. However when the mama grizzly comes upon the scene, her first reaction is to attack. She charges from behind, knocking Glass to the ground with her full body weight, and begins tearing him apart with her sharp teeth and claws. Although he tries to protect himself, this scout was obviously no match for this enraged animal. Chunks of flesh are torn from his back, his arms and legs are deeply gouged, and his face bloodied mercilessly.

My first thought was that this grizzly bear was vicious and out to kill anything that could be eaten. But in short order, I realized that she as a mother was only doing what any mother would do under similar circumstances, protect her young. Now I certainly don't condone the grizzly's methods, but then again, I'm not a grizzly bear. This mother was using all of the tools she had at hand: size, weight, teeth and claws. Even when Glass came at her with his fists and a knife, she never backed down. Though her own injuries were life-threatening, her onslaughts continued. The mama grizzly would fight to the death to protect and save her cubs.

Hugh Glass is barely holding on by a thread, when the trappers are overrun by their enemies. After a gruesome battle, few men are alive and are forced to carry Glass in wintry, unbearable conditions. At some point, the captain decides they must leave the gravely injured man behind, but offers to pay two men to remain and care for the scout. John Fitzgerald, a mean, unethical racist, along with John Bridger, agree, and Glass's half-breed son, Hawk will not leave his father's side. When Fitzgerald tires of his assignment, he tells the others they need to abandon their duties. Hawk refuses and ends up being stabbed to death by Fitzgerald as his father looks on unable to do anything to protect the boy that is his everything.

Hugh Glass has failed to protect his son, and throughout the rest of the movie, it is that failure that keeps him alive until he can exact justice for Hawk's untimely death. When retribution is finally made, Glass having fulfilled his parental purpose, the only purpose he has left in his entire world, closes his eyes one last time.

I think it was in the very final moments of this extraordinary film that I realized that as a parent protecting my children has always been my true purpose. Whether I needed to make sure all the electrical outlets were covered when they were toddlers, or being vigiliant as they swam in the ocean as tweens, or making it my business to confront bullies during their high school years, that is what I, the parent was for, first and foremost. Without my protection, who knows how the lives of my three children would have faired?

Monday, January 11, 2016


If you saw the wildcard NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals, you'll know what I'm talking about. Ben Roethlisberger is indeed a MAN among men.

Now before I explain further, let me just say I have no illusions that the Steeler's quarterback is an example of a modern-day super hero, a long-ago saintly figure, or a fearless explorer in search of the new world, because he's not, and I  think Ben would be the first to agree. If you've followed his career even a little, you know what I'm referring to.

But on Saturday, with emotions running high between the two teams who have been at each other's throats for years, even before the game whistle sounded, Roethlisberger was on the sidelines, focused and unphased by the crowd's angry chants and raised fists. He was ready to take the field and lead his team to victory.

Unfortunately the Steelers went three and out on their first possession. The Bengals did likewise led by their rookie quarterback, A.J. McCarron. As the game progressed, players on both sides became more aggressive and intent on disrupting their adversary's efforts.

One player in particular, Vontaze Burfict, #55 on Cincy's defense, was not only dead set on interrupting his opponent's game plan, he was on the hunt to maim as many players as he could in 60 minutes.
There were so many times Burfict tried to succeed, and finally in the last play of the third quarter he sacked Roethlisberger, throwing him to the ground with every inch of his being, then kneeing Pittsburgh's quarterback in his injured shoulder for good measure. Although considered a legal hit, the manner in which Burfict finished off his attack was not.

Ben walked off the field unaided and was attended to by the Steeler's medical personel who deemed it necessary to take him inside for X-rays. What happened as Roethlisberger was being carted away was disgusting. Cincinnati fans cheered loudly while throwing cups, bottles, and other things at the injured player. It was reported that Ben was hit by a battery of some sort, yet he remained calm and offered no complaints towards the unruly, childish bunch of thugs.

As the fourth quarter ensued, with the Steelers winning 15-0, things got ugly. Ryan Shazier put a hit on one of the Bengal's wider receivers rwhich resulted in him leaving the field without the possibility of returning. Again though a legal hit, Shazier's helmet to helmet contact was brutal and uncalled for.

During the last quarter, A.J. McCarron led his team down the field scoring two touchdowns and a field goal to put them ahead 16-15. Landry Jones, the Steeler's backup, threw a pass that was intercepted giving the ball to Cincy with less than two minutes remaining. All they had to do was run out the clock, and the win was theirs! Unfortunately with the heavy rains still pummeling the field, on the next play, the Bengals fumbled the ball  when Shazier ripped it out of the runner's hands.

Without reservation or concern for his own well-being, Big Ben looked at Mike Tomlin, and although no words were exchanged, Roethlisberger again took the field. Doing the best he could with short passes, he managed to drive the team to the fifty yard line. With little time left, Ben went to the sidelines to confer with Todd Haley who suggested a long pass was the only possibility to score of put them in field goal position. Ben knew a long pass was out of the question, but promised to do his best.

After three tries and facing a 4th and 3, Roethlisberger threw a 10 yarder to Antonio Brown. Although the wide receiver missed the catch, what happened next could only be viewed as malicious. Burfict came out of nowhere and smacked his helmet into Brown, rendering the defenseless player unconscious. Cincy received a 15 yard penality. While coaches and teammates gathered around concerned for Antonio's condition, Cincinnati players professed that the hit was legan and that they were being unfairly judged. Things got heated and Adam Jones punched Joey Porter, Pittsburgh's assistant coach and verbally went on the attack. Though it was reported later that Joey should not have been on the field, refs usually allow it when a player's well-being is in question. Porter did nothing to retaliate. Another fifteen yards was handed to Marvin Lewis' team and with only 18 seconds remaining, Pittsburgh kicked a 35 yard field goal and won the game!

Players quickly left the arena, but not before one of the announcer's took the opportunity to talk to Big Ben. When asked about his shoulder injury and if he thought he'd be ready for the next playoff game, he simply smiled and replied, "We won the game," and left for the locker room.

Ben Roethlisberger, A MAN AMONG MEN!

Monday, January 4, 2016


Come on, babyboomers, where the heck are you? Being one myself, I feel I have the right to speak out about your apparent apathy. If you were born between 1941-1945, the term,'babyboomer' applies to you, and in 1956 most likely you were going through puberty. Remember the awkward development of breast buds and wild emotions? What about the zits that appeared overnight on your forehead and chin? You lathered Clearsil by the tons all over your face and still those disgusting, pus-filled little buggers prevailed! Oh, and I'm not just talking to you, girls, except for the breast buds, boys experienced similar bodily and emotional changes, too!

Yet through all this embarrassment, you endured, I know you embrace the Fifties as much as I do. They were the 'good ole days' filled with innocence and wonder. So many of us attended parochial school where we were taught to love one another and hate the devil. The nuns both inspired and terrified us. We learned to read and write and obey the rules lest we endure the wrath of the infamous 'ruler whacks' on our knuckles! At home, we were to be seen and not heard. Our parents were too busy trying to make a decent living to be bothered with our insignificant problems. They expected us to pitch in to do whatever we could to help the family, and forget about our piddlely selves.

We lived within walking distance of most of our relatives and school chums. Our ties were strong which gave us a true sense of security no matter the problem. If the adults weren't available, our friends were at the ready to share any knowledge they had about the growth and development of the human body. My cousin, Donna, told me about menstruation long before my mother ever mentioned it. Since Donna was the first to get her period in our little circle, she was the go-to person for any questions we might have had.

We experienced a delicious sense of freedom during those wonderful years. Our doors were never locked, and we slept peacefully next to an opened window all summer long. After our chores were done, we rode bikes through the neighborhood, hung out by the creek, and climbed hills and swung from vines with glorious abandon. Remember? We sat on stoops in front of our houses and slurped popsicles in the early evenings. We gathered at the community center for a pick-up game of baseball, or simply to pump the swings reaching for the stars. No one ever called to see where we were or when we'd be coming home. The street lights going on were our signal to get our butts home a.s.a.p.

Since I missed those days so much, I decided to write books set in the Fifties mostly to tell my grandchildren about my awesome childhood. What I found was that the babyboomers identified with these tales because they gave them the opportunity to revisit and relive a time when they were young and free.

If you want to treat yourselves to something truly special, take a peek at my series, When We Were Kids. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll remember the past that helped make you the strong,independent person you are today.

If you read my books, I'd love to hear from you. Let's share our stories and our pride in the Fifties!


Other books in the series include: